As it’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow, the shops are full of cards with hearts, and heart-shaped balloons, cakes, chocolates, jewellery etc – because, of course, the heart is linked to love, and St. Valentine is the patron saint of love.
Throughout the ages, poetry and literature have concentrated on the heart as the centre of emotion, and there’s no doubt that the heart reacts to our feelings and reactions – it can thump, pound or thud, with emotions like shock, tension, fear, anticipation, excitement.
My characters’ hearts do all that, and more. I’ve learnt to be more restrained about their hearts after discovering (while editing one novel) that my heroine’s heart had not only thumped, pounded and thudded, but also jerked, jolted, jumped, and leapt (can the heart actually do those things?), and her heartbeat had accelerated, quickened, raced, skipped, missed a beat and done so many different things that she was in danger of an imminent heart attack.
And what about ‘heartache’ and ‘heartbreak’? Does the heart really ache? Can it actually break? The answer is probably no, but everyone knows what those words represent. In fact, a doctor actually gave Chief Joseph’s cause of death as being ‘of a broken heart’.
In the culture of all ages, the heart is everywhere, from the Roman poet Catullus with his heart ‘hardened’ (problem with his arteries?) to J.K.Rowling’s ‘The Warlock’s Hairy Heart’ (what??)
I’d actually contend that our emotions, feelings, and reactions come from our minds, but in romance novels, the heart continues be synonymous with love.
So I’ll leave you with a few quotations about hearts:
“The heart has its reasons which reason knows not.” (Blaise Pascal)
“A kiss makes the heart young again and wipes out the years.” (Rupert Brooke)
“Tears come from the heart and not from the brain.” (Leonardo da Vinci)
“The beauty of a woman must be seen in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides.” (Audrey Hepburn)
“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched - they must be felt with the heart.” (Helen Keller)